Still Star-Crossed 1×02 Review: We don’t like you, Escalus. Even if you make sense.

The first episode of Still Star-Crossed was a trope covered in tropey syrup and topped with a very tropey cherry. The second episode was …a little more of the same, if slightly less entertaining.

Yes, the episode was needed. The show needed to set up Escalus as a good man deep down, and yet a man who’d never put his own personal happiness – or Rosaline’s, for that matter, over the city.  Moreover, in order to move on with the Benvolio/Rosalind ship the show also needed to break Rosaline’s trust in Escalus in a way that was impossible to repair.

The result, though, was an episode that focused too much on the politics and too little on what we’re here for – the tropey arranged marriage and how the two people at the center of it interact with each other.

In fact, the best scene in the episode was the only scene Benvolio and Rosaline had together, not just because the chemistry is palpable, but because the setup for this show makes it so the only way we can care is if the promise of drama is fulfilled. This isn’t House of Cards or Designated Survivor, this is more like Veep. We don’t care about the actual politics, we just care about the people making the terrible decisions.

So, let’s go into the love triangle from hell, the scheming and the Prince no one should like as we discuss “The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth.”

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO SHIP?

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At first I thought the show was setting up an actual conflict for the viewer, a situation where we’d been tempted to ship one way or the other – but by the end of the episode, I was proven wrong. Escalus isn’t the man for Rosaline. Escalus isn’t the man for anyone, because Escalus will never, has never put her first.

Does that mean Benvolio will? Who knows, but at least there’s a chance he might – and since I am firmly Team Rosaline in this whole nightmarish scenario, I say it’s time we kiss (wait, no, kick) the Prince goodbye and focus on the other dude, the one she doesn’t want to marry.

Because, hey, TROPE says the guy you don’t want is always better than the guy you DO want. And if there was ever a show that was going to veer away from tropes, well, it’s not this one. Nope. This is like a romance novel brought to life, but with much more diversity and totally awesome costumes.

But then again, that’s what we signed up for, isn’t it?

LOVE IS A MATTER OF LUST – AND CIRCUMSTANCE?

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Says Lord Montague, and the quote only stuck with me because that’s it. THAT’S THE SHOW. I promise you, we’ll be talking about how true it was by the time the season finale rolls around. Pretty guy, pretty girl, they hate each other, life puts them in a situation where they have to spend time together, they realize they might not like each other but they’re attracted to each other, which just makes them hate each other more, until they start discovering they have more in common than they thought and …voila! TRUE LOVE.

I should have put a spoiler warning before that, as I have just told you the whole story.

Either way, the quote serves not just to remind us of what’s coming, but to prove that the show is self-aware enough to understand what it’s selling. Tropey romance.

Now, I don’t want to be repetitive, but if you’re selling tropey romance, for crying out loud, give me tropey romance. Not politics.

More Benvolio, less Escalus. More of our two main characters forced together and less death and scheming and money problems. I wish I cared one iota about any other character on this show, but I really and truly don’t.

Except for Escalus. I actively don’t like him. So, yeah. There’s that.

Other things to note:

  • I don’t want to say old King makes sense, but the dude makes sense. And Escalus wasn’t/isn’t the type of man who’ll throw reason to the side for love.
  • Aka, he isn’t Romeo Montague.
  • Anthony Stewart Head, I love you, but you’re making it hard on me to continue loving you.
  • Wait, no, I will love you forever, but I hate this dude you’re playing.
  • Locking her in Juliet’s room is cold. COLD.
  • “You screwed yourself out of the first marriage I arranged for you, you’re not going to screw yourself out of this one.”
  • Princess Isabella is like Baby Cersei Lannister.
  • “What about the good of me?” YES, ROSALINE. WHAT ABOUT THE GOOD OF YOU?
  • Is the show going for a Paris/Livia thing? Because Lady Capulet will DIE if they are.
  • Oh, I really hope they are.
  • Escalus’s impassive face at the end is a clear sign that we won’t be seeing the kind ruler from the first two episodes any longer. Which just means I’m free to hate him in peace.

What did you think about this episode of Still Star-Crossed? Who do you ship? Share with us in the comments below!

Still Star-Crossed airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.

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